The ultimate Sriracha taste test to see which, if any, chili sauces live up to the original.

The ultimate Sriracha taste test to see which, if any, chili sauces live up to the original.

In 1980, Vietnamese immigrant David Tran introduced his version of a Thai hot sauce that would transform table­tops and subsequently change our lives. The chili sauce called sriracha (named after the town Si Racha in Thailand) blends red peppers, garlic, vinegar and sugar into a smorgasbord of exploding flavor. Today, Tran’s Huy Fong Foods, the maker of sriracha, sells a staggering $60 million worth of the rooster sauce. 

Huy Fong

Spice: 4/5

There’s a reason why we douse our entrees, appetizers and bodies with this delicate balance of garlic, vinegar and chili like an addict chases a fix. Each ingredient in Huy Fong dances intricately on the tongue in a celebration of life and the pursuit of happiness, never overpowering the other. And if a small town in California has to experience constant subjection to chili fumes for this sauce to exist, so be it. Sometimes to make a delicacy, you need to sacrifice a town.

Trader Joe’s

Spice: 2/5

Trader Joe’s has joined the onslaught of Sriracha knock­offs with its garlic­dominant Thai concoction, although watered down and slightly off the mark of the original rooster sauce. Garlic is the name of the game in this one. Had the characters in “True Blood” had a bottle of Trader Joe’s Sriracha, things would be much different. We’d recommend this for cooking just like we’d recommend a cheap wine for added complexity in an Italian dish.

Flying Goose

Spice: 2/5

A staff favorite, Flying Goose soars dangerously close to the Huy Fong front­runner, occasionally forcing our taste buds to deceive their diabolical lust for the original rooster sauce in exchange for a different red bottle. Rich and balanced, Flying Goose offers a double­edged sword of deep flavors, standing well on their own but sometimes overpowering the flavors of the dish. For chefs incapable of reading recipes and in need of serious flavor, Flying Goose is your white, avian knight.


Spice: 3/5

For those who prefer vinegar­based hot sauces, such as Frank’s or Tobasco, Roland’s is your mecca for acetic bliss. While other rooster sauces travel the garlic path of least resistance, Roland’s unique penchant for vinegar ostensibly masks the heavy chili and garlic flavors but still provides a soft balance of tastes. We’d recommend Roland’s for a mouth­watering Thai Buffalo wing sauce.

Sky Valley

Spice: 1/5

In an age of organic, farm­to­table debauchery, it’s only appropriate a contender be bent on gluten­free and organic ingredients. What starts well in theory slowly erodes into a cacophony of tomatoes, garlic and more tomatoes resulting in a tomato­-paste Sriracha. We love ketchup as much as the next Midwestern hick with a sweet tooth, but when it comes to rooster sauce, less tomato is better. We’ll leave this sauce for the Whole Foods consumer. 

Lee Kum Kee

Spice: 4/5

Send your taste buds on a one­way trip to flavor town with this amalgamation of fish sauce and Sriracha. The chunky texture leaves more to be desired yet the traditional ingredients, and thus flavors, balance out our indifference toward this sauce. The bold flavors would work well with fried or plain rice, but it’s not the traditional Sriracha most of us are used to. 

Dark Star

Spice: 7/5

Finally a hot sauce that reminds us why we assiduously subject ourselves to insufferable amounts of hotness, eventually losing all feeling in our lips and sweating like a hooker in church. Dark Star is the guilty pleasure of spicy. Each bite serves up a crisp roasted chipotle ensemble not seen in traditional rooster sauce but nonetheless deliciously infectious. The entire Rooster staff placed this gut­buster among the best with its kick, punch and overall karate chop to the senses.